5 Best Ways to Strengthen your Calves

Calves are one of the most important muscles for athletes and general people alike. Having strong calves can help you improve your performance in a variety of activities, from running to jumping to weightlifting. Having strong calves can also help you reduce injuries in the future.

Many people present to us as physiotherapists at Surrey Physio with calf strains or tears. This is often due to weakness in the calves. We use a number of techniques such as LASER to help tissue repair. We also advise on strengthening exercises. One thing we do not do is to massage the calves shortly after a calf tear, due to the risk of a DVT. You should wait at least one week before getting a massage on the calf following a tear or strain.

A common need to strengthen the calves are when patients have chronic Achilles tendinopathy (tendonitis) and plantar fasciitis. It can also be useful to strengthen the calves after an ankle sprain when the swelling has reduced and you are pain-free. Calf strengthening is also very useful to athletes for performance.

If you’re looking to increase your calf strength, here are five of the best ways to do so.

1. Calf Raises (Two Legs): Calf raises are one of the most popular and effective exercises for strengthening your calves. To do a calf raise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lift your heels off the ground, hold for a second, and then lower back down. This can be done with just your bodyweight or with added weight like a barbell or dumbbells. Repeat 20-30 repetitions, twice per day. Progress to a single leg raise.

2. Calf Raises (Single Leg): Stand upright on one leg. Slowly raise up onto your toes, and control the movement back down. Hold on to a wall or table for support. This exercise will strengthen the calf muscle and ankle joint. Repeat 20-30 repetitions, twice per day.

3. Bosu Calf Raise: The seated calf raise is a slightly more challenging variation of the basic calf raise. To do this exercise, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Lift your heels off the ground, hold for a second, and then lower back down. You can do this exercise with just your bodyweight or with added weight. Repeat 20-30 repetitions, twice per day.

4. Step-Ups: Step-ups are another great exercise for targeting your calves. To do this exercise, stand in front of a step or box and place one foot on top of it. Push through your heel and lift your opposite foot off the ground, hold for a second, and then lower back down. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 10-15 reps, twice per day.

5. Plyometric Calf Step Up: Step up onto the step or bench, and drive your knee upwards towards the ceiling. Bring your knee back down and foot off the step. One foot will always stay on the step, while the other will come on and off the floor. Keep the speed of the exercise brisk. This is a strengthening exercise for the calf muscles and lower leg. Repeat one sided, then switch to your other leg. Repeat 10-15 reps, twice per day.

These are just a few of the best ways to strengthen your calves. Remember to always warm up before doing any exercise and to listen to your body if something doesn’t feel right. With consistency and dedication, you can get the strong calves you’ve always wanted.

(These videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises www.rehabmypatient.com. If you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).